I am incredibly lucky to have called Antarctica home, even if for only a short time. I had some truly amazing experiences, and of course, some more challenging ones but hey it’s all part of it, right? However, every adventure must come to an end and as this one was quickly winding up. I would like to say I was super sad to leave but to be honest I was ready for something new. Having more than one day off a week at this point sounded pretty glorious. The 19th of February was the scheduled departure date. Now, the number one rule in Antarctica is don’t get excited until it’s happening because things rarely go to plan. But, I couldn’t help myself. I got excited and then of course the inevitable happened, the flight was delayed 24 hours!!! Ugh! Lucky for us, we were only delayed one day. We got off lightly. The next day, although grey and not very inspiring (I was sure we were going to be delayed again), we got the message to say the flight had left Christchurch and was on its way.
Final goodbyes were said in the locker room. Last glances were made at the place we had come to call home and then it was into the trucks that five months before had delivered us to that very same door. The chilly day (-26 degrees Celsius) reminded us of the beginning of our journey, a fitting farewell to the continent. At the airfield we waited for the arrival of the NZ Airforce Boeing 757, not the original aircraft we were planned to travel home on, but like I said, things change. This was the jackpot for us really, not only did we get a passenger plane with windows, unlike the C-17 that was meant to take us home, we got to fly business class!!!
When our plane finally arrived, we were all ready to escape the chilly day and get on our way. I was a little nervous about coming home, people talk about the smell of the airport and how fast it feels to drive etc. However, each experience is unique I suppose. For me, when we touched down on the dark wet tarmac at Christchurch Airport, Antarctica vanished. Only hours ago, I was standing on a frozen continent, a world so different to the one I was standing in now it could be nothing but a dream. Adjusting back to the real world didn’t seem to be a problem. The food variety at the supermarket was exciting, it was slightly strange to see children but nothing too major. We spent the next few days in a hotel in Christchurch. The most exciting thing was the ginormous bed that greeted us when we walked in the door of our room. For the last five months it has been single beds and to stretch out was amazing! Also, a long shower without feeling guilty for using too much water, uh paradise.
So, what comes next? I have no job to go to, no commitments, just a big wide world to play in. I have to say it’s fantastic! After heading home to Dunedin to visit my family. I planned on walking the North West Circuit of Stewart Island (in a blog to follow). The plan for the rest of my time is to spend a little time in New Zealand before heading overseas where the adventure continues.